Matthew Crichton: This will be Luton’s fourth season in the Championship after winning League One, what do you think have been the key factors behind the club stabilising at this level?
Ian Robertson: It’s not an easy task for any club, but it’s certainly not an easy task when you’re running a sustainable football club the size of ours, I think we take it for granted a little bit as we’ve been on an upward trajectory for several years now.
But the work Nathan Jones, the recruitment team and our owners have put in over those four years is nothing short of astonishing, stability will always give you a foundation to build on and our owners have done exactly that, we’ve improved year on year, on and off the pitch.
Footballing wise though, that’s down to the recruitment team and Nathan Jones, many label the recruitment team one of the best in the EFL and it’s hard to argue against the case really, we’ve been so smart.
MC: Nathan Jones returned to manage Luton after a brief spell in charge of Stoke, how crucial has he been to your side’s rise up the EFL pyramid?
IR: He’s been pivotal, he’s tactically smart, self-aware and a very good coach, he manages to get the very best out of players that many deem past their best, but he also knows how to create an environment, whether it’s riling up our supporters or opposition ones, he keeps that buzz going and positive momentum that then translates into the stands in games.
His forward planning is superb too, much of our success has been due to his processes or players brought in for the longer-term plan, much of that League One winning squad we actually brought in during the previous season with one eye on the title even though we hadn’t got out of League Two yet.
MC: After a difficult start to this season, The Hatters are back on track - do you think this team is capable of finishing in the playoffs once again?
IR: We have a chance, I predicted 8/9th before the season started and that’s probably where I’d still have us, the break for the world cup isn’t going to do anyone any favours and it provides an air of unpredictability. But we’ll be in or around it I think.
MC: As a lower-budget Championship side, what has made Luton’s recruitment policy work so well to remain competitive at the top end of the league?
IR: It’s been a big factor you’re right, firstly we don’t sign anyone that’s just deemed to have the ability to play at the level, they have to fit in with our ethos of hard work and teamwork, this narrows our field somewhat but also creates such a good work ethic throughout the squad and the club as a whole, everyone fights for each other.
Obviously, that makes the job in recruitment slightly harder, but with Mick Harford (Head of Recruitment) his team and then the fantastic acquisition of Jay Socik (Head of Recruitment Analysis), we’ve not only got players that fit the Luton Town mould but players that have seemingly gone under the radar of other Championship clubs.
We’ve managed to sign a mixture of young athletic players with high ceilings and older experienced players deemed past it by other clubs, but we’ve squeezed more out of them and they’ve helped the new blood coming through, we’ve got that blend just right.
MC: Despite struggling for goals for most of his career, Carlton Morris has already scored seven goals this season since joining from Barnsley this summer, what makes him such a threat?
IR: He’s what you’d call a complete striker, he’s got pace, power, skill and a real predatory threat to take a chance when he gets one.
He works the channels to recover possession and create chances throughout the team too.
MC: Aside from Morris, what Luton players should be Tony Mowbray’s side be wary of?
IR: We’re very much a unit, but players you’d appreciate are Elijah Adebayo who’ll be up top with Morris, he holds the ball up so well and knows where the goal is too.
Also Allan Campbell in the middle of the park, he doesn’t stop running, it’s like he’s got seven lungs, so I wouldn’t expect much time on the ball in that area of the pitch.
MC: Which eleven players do you think Jones will select?
IR: Horvath, Bree, Lockyer, Bradley, Potts, Bell, Lansbury, Clark, Campbell, Morris, Adebayo.
MC: The two sides drew 1-1 twice during their last league season together, what is your score prediction for this time around?
IR: We’ll be a bit sore after the game at the weekend, we usually bounce back after a game like that, I’ll go for 2-1 to Luton.